Artocarpus (Sturtevant, 1919)

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Sturtevant, Notes on edible plants, 1919
Artocarpus (Sturtevant, 1919)

Artocarpus brasiliensis Gomez.

Urticaceae. JACK.

Brazil. Professor Hartt says the jack is cultivated in the province of Bahia and to the north, at Sao Matheus and occasionally as far south as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fruit is of immense size, being sometimes a foot and a half in the longer diameter. The seeds are largely used as food and the pulp is nutritious. In some parts, a kind of farina is prepared from the seeds, but this use is by no means general.

Artocarpus hirsuta Lam.

East Indies. The fruit is the size of a large orange. The pulpy substance is much relished by the natives, being almost as good as the fruit of the jack.

Artocarpus incisa Linn. f.


This most useful tree is nowhere found growing wild but is now extensively cultivated in warm regions. It is first described by the writer of Mendana's Voyage to the Marquesas Islands, 1595. It has been distributed from the Moluccas, by way of Celebes and New Guinea, throughout all the islands of the Pacific Ocean to Tahiti. Breadfruit is also naturalized in, the Isle of France, in tropical Americal and bears fruit in Ceylon and Burma. It is more especially an object of care and cultivation in the Marquesas and the Friendly and Society Islands. The tree was conveyed to the Isle of France from Luzon in the Philippines by Sonnerat. In 1792, from Tahiti and Timor, Capt. Bligh, who was commissioned by the British Government for this purpose, took a store of plants and in 1793 landed 333 breadfruit trees at St. Vincent and 347 at Port Royal, Jamaica. In the cultivated breadfruit, the seeds are almost always abortive, leaving their places empty which shows that its cultivation goes back to a remote antiquity. This seedlessness does not hold true, however, of all varieties, of which there are many. Chamisso describes a variety in the Mariana Islands with small fruit containing seeds which are frequently perfect. Sonnerat found in the Philippines a breadfruit, which he considered as wild, which bears ripe seeds of a considerable size. In Tahiti, there are eight varieties without seeds and one variety with seeds which is inferior to the others. Nine varieties are credited by Wilkes to the Fiji Islands and twenty to the Samoan. Captain Cook, at Tahiti, in 1769, describes the fruit as about the size and shape of a child's head, with the surface reticulated not much unlike a truffle, covered with a thin skin and having a core about as big as the handle of a small knife.

The eatable part of breadfruit lies between the skin and the core and is as white as snow and somewhat of the consistence of new bread. It must be roasted before it is eaten. Its taste is insipid, with a slight sweetness, somewhat resembling that of the crumb of wheaten bread mixed with a Jerusalem artichoke. Wilkes says the best varieties when baked or roasted are not unlike a good custard pudding. If the breadfruit is to be preserved, it is scraped from the rind and buried in a pit where it is allowed to ferment, when it subsides into a mass somewhat of the consistency of new cheese. These pits when opened emit a nauseous, fetid, sour odor, and the color of the contents is a greenish-yellow. In this state it is called mandraiuta, or native bread, of which several kinds are distinguished. It is said that it will keep several years and is cooked with cocoanut milk, in which state it forms an agreeable and nutritious food. This tree affords one of the most generous sources of nutriment that the world possesses. According to Poster, twenty-seven breadfruit trees, which would cover an English acre with their shade, are sufficient for the support of from ten to twelve people during the eight months of fruit-bearing. Breadfruit is called in Tahiti maiore, in Hawaii aeiore.

Artocarpus integrifolia Linn. f.


East Indies. On account of its excellent fruit, this tree is a special object of cultivation on the two Indian peninsulas, in Cochin China and southern China. It has only recently been introduced into the islands of the Pacific Ocean, as well as upon the island of Mauritius, the Antilles and the west coast of Africa. It is scarcely to be doubted that it occurs here and there growing wild and that perhaps Ceylon and the peninsula of Further India may be looked upon as its original native land. The jack seems to be the Indian fruit described by Pliny, who gives the name of the tree as pala, of the fruit, ariena; and to be the chagui of Friar Jordanus, about 1330, whose "fruit is of such size that one is enough for five persons." Firminger says the fruit of this tree is perhaps about one of the largest in existence and is an ill-shapen, unattractive-looking object. The interior is of a soft, fibrous consistency with the edible portions scattered here and there, of about the size and color of a small orange. It is considered delicious by those who can manage to eat it, but it possesses the rich, spicy scent and flavor of the melon to such a powerful degree as to be quite unbearable to persons of a weak stomach, or to those not accustomed to it. There are two varieties in India. Lunan says the thick, gelatinous covering which envelopes the seeds, eaten either raw or fried, is delicious. The round seeds, about half an inch in diameter, eaten roasted, have a very mealy and agreeable taste. The fruit, says Brandis, is an important article of food in Burma, southern India and Ceylon. The tree has a very strong and disagreeable smell.

Artocarpus lakoocha Roxb.

Malay and East Indies. The ill-shapen fruit, the size of an orange and of an austere taste, is sometimes eaten. Firminger says also that he has met with those who said they liked it, a fact which he could otherwise have hardly credited. Brandis says the male flower-heads are pickled.



The several species of arum possess a combination of extremely acrid properties, with the presence of a large quantity of farina, which can be separated from the poisonous ingredient by heat or water and in some instances by merely drying. The arums form the most important plants of the tropics. In a single Polynesian Island, Tahiti, the natives have names for 33 arums. Taro, the general name, is grown in vast quantities in the Fiji group on the margins of streams under a system of irrigation. When the root is ripe, the greater part is cut off from the leaves and the portion which is left attached to them is at once replanted. These roots are prepared for use by boiling and are then pounded into a kind of flour, which is preserved until wanted for use. Large quantities of taro are also stored in pits where it becomes solid and is afterwards used by the natives as mandrai. In former times, the common spotted arum furnished food to the English during the periods of scarcity. It seems impossible to determine in all cases to which species of arum travelers refer in recording the use of this genera of plants. The information given under the heading of the species will show the generality of their use and their importance.

Arum dioscoridis Sibth. & Sm.

East Mediterranean countries. Theophrastus mentions that the roots and leaves of this plant, steeped in vinegar, were eaten in ancient Greece. The roots, as Pickering remarks, are cooked and eaten in the Levant.

Arum italicum Mill.


Mediterranean countries. This arum is described by Dioscorides, who says its root is eaten either raw or cooked. Westward, the cooked root is further mentioned by Dioscorides as mixed with honey by the Balearic islanders and made into cakes. This plant was in cultivation for seven years in Guernsey for the purpose of making arrow-root from its corms.

Arum maculatum Linn.


Europe. The thick and tuberous root, while fresh, is extremely acrid, but by heat its injurious qualities are destroyed, and in the isle of Portland the plant was extensively used in the preparation of an arrowroot. According to Sprengel,4 its roots are cooked and eaten in Albania, and in Slavonia it is made into a kind of bread. The leaves, even of this acrid plant, are said by Pallas 5 to be eaten by the Greeks of Crimea. "Dioscorides showeth that the leaves also are prescribed to be eaten and that they must be eaten after they be dried and boy led."

Arundinaria japonica Sieb. & Zucc.

Gramineae. CANE.

Northern Japan. When the young shoots appear in early summer, they are carefully gathered and, under the name of take-no-ko, are used for food as we would employ young asparagus; though by no means so tender as the latter, they make a very desirable dish.

Arundinaria macrosperma Michx.


North America. This is the species of cane which forms cane brakes in Virginia, Kentucky and southward. Flint, in his Western States, says: "It produces an abundant crop of seed with heads very like those of broom corn. The seeds are farinaceous and are said to be not much inferior to wheat, for which the Indians and occasionally the first settlers substituted it."

Asarum canadense Linn.

Aristolochiaceae. SNAKEROOT. WILD GINGER.

North America. Bartonl says the dried, pulverized root is commonly used in many parts of our country as a substitute for ginger, and Balfour says it is used as a spice in Canada.

Asclepias syriaca Linn.


North America. Kalm says the French in Canada use the tender shoots of milkweed in spring, preparing them like asparagus, and that they also make a sugar of the flowers; a very good, brown, palatable sugar. Fremont found the Sioux Indians of the upper Platte eating the young pods, boiling them with the meat of the buffalo. Jefferys, in his Natural History of Canada, says: "What they call here the cotton-tree is a plant which sprouts like asparagus to the height of about three feet and is crowned with several tufts of flowers; these are shaken early in the morning before the dew is off of them when there falls from them with the dew a kind of honey, which is reduced into sugar by boiling; the seed is contained in a pod which encloses also a very fine sort of cotton." In 1835, Gen. Dearborn of Massachusetts recommended the use of the young shoots of milkweed as asparagus, and Dewey says the young plant is thus eaten. In France the plant is grown as an ornament.

Asclepias tuberosa Linn.


Northeastern America. The tubers are boiled and used by the Indians. The Sioux of the upper Platte prepare from the flowers a crude sugar and also eat the young seed-pods. Some of the Indians of Canada use the tender shoots as an asparagus.

Asimina triloba Dun.

Annonaceae. PAPAW.

Middle and southern United States. All parts of the tree have a rank smell, and the fruit is relished by few except negroes. Vasey says the fruit, about four inches long, when ripe has a rich, luscious taste. "The pulp of the fruit," says Flint, "resembles egg-custard in consistence and appearance. It has the same creamy feeling in the mouth and unites the taste of eggs, cream, sugar and spice. It is a natural custard, too lucious for the relish of most people. The fruit is nutritious and a great resource to the savages."